During a lengthy no-case submission, lawyers for former Minister of Public Service Dr. Jennifer Westford and Ms. Margaret Cummings have argued that the larceny charges were “not legitimately and lawfully made out.”
In 2016, the women were slapped with 24 charges of simple larceny which alleged that between August 2011 and April 2015, while being employed in the Public Service of Guyana, they stole $639.4M.
They have each been released on a total of $4.8M bail each.
According to the bettery of lawyers for the women, which includes Senior Counsel Neil Boston and Dexter Todd, “Dr. Jennifer Westford in accordance with the Law is not a Public Officer.”
The Prosecution has ignored lawful meaning of a public officer and proceeded to try a then Minister under an offence which and not be established in law.”
It is the contention of the lawyers that the case presented by State Prosecutors Natasha Backer and Teshanna Lake points to no acting in concert by the defendants to steal monies issued to the Ministry.
Among other things, the lawyers have argued that it is trite law therefore that where two persons are jointly charged where the case fails against one, the other must be acquitted of same offence.
Scrutinizing the prosecution’s case, defence counsel pointed out that the State’s case if flooded with circumstantial evidence, and the evidence does not point to one conclusion.
“It is again the respectful view of the defense that when a court deals with circumstantial evidence where the defense leads to more than one conclusion that can reasonably be drawn; the court cannot convict on circumstantial evidence.”
Emphasizing that the evidence against Ms. Cummings is woefully lacking, the lawyers said that it is clear that the transaction involving Ms. Cummings were legitimate transaction and that all legitimate procedure for issuing monies from the then Office of the President were followed.
Based on information, from 2001-2005, Dr. Westford was employed as Minister of Public Service while her co-accused was the principal personnel officer at the said Ministry.
Investigations revealed that on several occasions in her then capacity as minister, Dr. Westford signed memoranda amounting to $639,420,000 and sent them to the Office of the President for approval which was granted.
Cheques were prepared and encashed by the Bank of Guyana (BoG).
The monies were to carry out various activities in the 10 administrative regions. But when personnel from the various regions were contacted, they denied ever receiving cash.
A probe was launched but the monies were never recovered.
Dr. Westford and Ms. Cummings are not due back in court until August 09, 2018, when the prosecution is expected to respond to defence submission.